Logistics Management – Legal Air Space for Drones

Concerns about safety and legalities are restricting the use of drones everywhere, except in one rather surprising place: the great indoors of mega-warehouses.

It’s completely legal to fly drones inside a private space, and logistics experts are putting drones to use inside large warehouses to automate certain tasks. Warehouses are finite spaces, and they can be mapped into drones’ programming for highly accurate flights. With the added ability to read RFID tags, drones can perform the mundane labor-intensive “cycle counting” that maintains an accurate inventory.

Walmart, one of the nation’s largest warehousers, has instituted a pilot program (no pun intended) to automate inventory management with drones. They estimate that a drone will be able to accurately check as much inventory in one day as a human employee can in a month – an impressive improvement in efficiency and effectiveness. And there’s the added factor of personnel safety: warehouse employees don’t have to climb ladders or operate lifts to count inventory.

Indoor drone usage isn’t right for every warehouse and every logistics manager. Ceiling height, interior walls, and racking systems all must be considered before moving to drone automation. And drones themselves are not cheap, particularly when spatial programming and RFID readers enter the equation. But for some businesses, it could be well worth the investment. Consult with a storage professional to see if drones are right for your warehouse operations.


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The $630,000 Mis-file

The Boston Public Library is one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most respected public institutions, but when a couple of valuable art works went missing, the library’s esteemed position – and the reputations of many librarians – went under the microscope of an FBI investigation.

Like other libraries and museums, Boston Public Library has a mandate to acquire and archive historical documents, artifacts, and art for the benefit of scholars and the public alike. According to former Library president Amy Ryan, her predecessors had maintained no central inventory, and acquisitions were made without any documentation. When a 15th century Albrecht Durer print and a 16th century Rembrandt print, valued at $600,000 and $30,000 respectively, went missing after being shown to a high school group, there was no way to know what had happened to them. As reported by the Boston Globe, investigators were called in, the department head was suspended, and the library’s president tendered her resignation.

Personnel were eventually cleared of any charges when the rare prints were discovered months later on a high shelf just a few feet from their correct filing positions. An innocent filing mistake was the culprit. It’s a cautionary tale for institutions and facilities that may be dealing with inadequate, outdated filing and inventory systems.


Photo © Anton Gvozdikov Fotolia

Your Body Is Phoning, and It Says Take Two Aspirin and Call Back In The Morning

Sounds far-fetched: an RFID temporary tattoo that can sense a variety of illnesses, then use its built-in antenna to communicate to you or your healthcare professionals that you need medical attention. A scene from Star Trek? Not at all. The same RFID technology that tracks inventory from the warehouse to the end user is now being adapted to detect infections and wirelessly signal nearby computers for assistance. In theory, your doctor could receive a text saying that you’ve contracted a life-threatening disease long before any symptoms are visible.

The applications are myriad: First responders could scan an injured person for allergies or medical conditions before administering medications. Doctors could be alerted to a patient’s impending heart attack hours before onset. Epidemiologists in the field could identify asymptomatic patients before they spread disease through a community. The potential for improved healthcare is tremendous. And it all started with an asthma patient’s permanent medical tattoo combined with the practical application of RFID, currently well-known for inventory management and materials handling. Read the whole story at http://bit.ly/1qpgiAx.

Of course, we’re not claiming that storage professionals are helping to save the world, but this new RFID solution seems to point in that direction!


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How RFID Is Saving Macy’s Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Surveys say 47% of shoppers prefer shopping online. Sounds like the end of retail is near! However, shopping online does not necessarily translate to buying online. Macy’s is using RFID’s rich data capabilities to make sure that whatever is advertised online is actually available in stores, giving shoppers the convenience of online shopping combined with the immediacy of in-store purchasing.

Bill Connell, Macy’s senior VP of logistics and operations, cites the speed and reliability of RFID inventory control as part of their omnichannel retail scheme. RFID allows store employees to scan inventory on the retail floor several times a day and replenish stock immediately, something that was completely impractical with other inventory control systems. Shoppers who see something on Macy’s website today and want to wear it tonight will always find that specific item in the store – a valuable advantage in the competitive world of retail. Read the complete story at http://bit.ly/1qEiRAS.


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Photo © Denys Rudyi – Fotolia.com